The river and its tributaries were formed from 10 000 to 15 000 years ago when Glacial Lake Peace began to melt and drain. Formerly, the Peace was formed by the juncture of the Finlay River from the north and the Parsnip River from the south. In the late 1960s the forks of the 3 rivers were dammed, with the water swelling to form WILLISTON LAKE. The Peace flows from the east arm of the lake, cuts through the Rocky Mountains and is joined by the Halfway and Beatton rivers from the north and the Pine River from the south. It continues eastward and cuts a deep gash, up to 11 km wide, across the northwestern Alberta prairie. Near the town of PEACE RIVER, it is joined by the Smoky River and swings abruptly north, meandering to near FORT VERMILION, where it turns east and, joined by the Wabasca River, flows into WOOD BUFFALO NATIONAL PARK. It then pours into the Slave River, whence its waters are carried to Great Slave Lake, which is drained by the Mackenzie.
Following Alexander MACKENZIE's famous voyage to the Pacific Ocean, other traders travelled up the river, and, beginning with Boyer's Post near Fort Vermilion in 1788, over 20 trading establishments were constructed over the years, including 5 different posts built at various times around the location of FORT ST JOHN. Simon FRASER built a strategic post, Rocky Mountain Portage House, at the head of navigation in 1805 (now present day Hudson's Hope). The river remained a major freighting route well into the 20th century.
The valley of the Peace River is fertile; it is the northernmost commercially important agricultural region of North America (see also PEACE RIVER LOWLAND). The great Gordon M. Shrum hydroelectric power station near Hudson's Hope began producing electricity in 1968 and at 2730 megawatts is the third largest in Canada; nearby Peace Canyon station generates additional power. The dams were built amid some controversy, for the levels of the water, especially along the Peace Athabasca Delta, were greatly affected. In 1982 the delta was designated a Ramsar site - a wetland of international importance.
Author DAVID W. LEONARD
Links to Other Sites
Quenching the Peace-Athabasca Delta
Information about the Peace-Athabasca Delta in northern Alberta, one of the world's largest inland freshwater deltas. From Environment Canada.
Northern River Basins Study
An extensive online report that summarizes research results related to the cumulative impacts of human economic activity on the natural aquatic ecosystems throughout the Peace, Athabasca, and Slave River basins in northern Canada. With maps and charts. A Government of Alberta website.
Quenching the Peace Athabasca Delta
This site provides an overview of programs designed to mitigate the impacts of human economic activity and natural variations in climate on the natural productivity and biological diversity found in the Peace Athabasca Delta region of northern Alberta. From Environment Canada.
Dane-zaa Stories & Songs: Dreamers and the Land
Explore the oral histories of the Dane-zaa through the stories and songs brought to the people by Dreamers (Nááchê). Also learn about the Doig River First Nations, one of the Dane-zaa communities of the Peace River area of BC. Includes an online teachers' guide and notes about the Dane-zaa Záágéʔ language, a member of the Athabaskan language family. Requires Flash or Quick Time media programs. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Besides hockey and the maple leaf, there is little as symbolically Canadian as the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It grew out of a developing nation's need to express its identity and find its voice.